Steve Petzold | Council Should Delay Appointment

Letters to the Editor
Letters to the Editor

I was shocked beyond belief (OK, not really) that the City Council is attempting to ram through an appointment to the Parks and Recreation Commission at Tuesday’s meeting. They even placed it at the beginning of the agenda. Unfortunately, this is the way our deeply entrenched and connected politicos do agency business. 

The City Council “never lets a good crisis go to waste” in the famous words of Rahm Emanuel, former Clinton adviser and ex-mayor of Chicago. 

Niccolo Machiavelli may have said it first, “never waste the opportunity offered by a good crisis.”  Rahm Emanuel never took the time to give proper attribution. Whatever, you get the point.

The procedure used for the appointment process is based on an outdated city policy resolution for filling vacancies that was created shortly after incorporation. At that time council members were elected at large. The policy is so old that it appears to have been typed. Times have changed, folks, it should be updated.

Typically, appointments to the Parks Commission are considered extremely desirable and generate a lot of interest. The public notice published during the busy and chaotic holiday season resulted in only two applications. One was from the son of Don Cruik-shank, whose untimely death created the vacancy, and Rob Cruikshank seems to be the preferred applicant. To me, Steve Petzold, a lonely voice for clean government and transparency, this reeks of cronyism and is very suspect.

It is extremely troubling to me that the agenda item packet did not include the applications of the two applicants, Rob Cruikshank and Di Thompson. Of course, applications were provided to City Council members. However, the public and the press are forced to (contact) City Hall to inspect the applications. We are denied the opportunity to inspect public documents without the expenditure of time, money and resource. How are we expected to provide meaningful public comment?

The council should reject both applications and republish the required public notice for 30 days. Applicants from traditionally under-represented communities should be contacted using non-traditional resources like social media and encouraged to apply. 

There is precedent for this action. The Sulphur Springs Union School District reopened the application process to generate additional applicants for a vacant trustee position a few years ago.

In my opinion, the recent decision to move to voting districts should generate a community discussion as to whether commission appointments should be restricted to district residents to assure geographic dispersion and member diversity. It is time to look at the nomination and appointment process.

The time to stop cronyism is before it becomes deeply embedded in the political system.

What say you?

Steve Petzold

Santa Clarita

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